The Saba Islander

by Will Johnson

Our Banks

I constantly get calls for assistance to help people with problems they are having with their banks. I can remember many years ago that a prominent citizen came to me with his bankbook for help. The bank had only given him half of the interest due to him on his savings account. He was very upset and rightfully so. He said:”If you cannot trust your bank, who can you trust”? Since then it seems that things have taken a turn for the worse.

Here in the islands there is no such thing as a mortgage loan like you see advertised in other countries. At best here you can only get a short term loan with interests ranging from 8 to 12% and with all sorts of additional charges made by the banks. No wonder that Bada Bing loans have become popular.

Here on Saba in the past years many of our local people have been building apartments for rent or building new homes. They know how difficult it is to get a loan from a bank and once the loan has been obtained the problems you confront with paying back the loan due to the high interest rates and other charges. There have been auctions of houses here on Saba the past years and threats of more auctions to come. I was unaware of how the banks deal with clients even when reasonable arguments for mercy have been brought forward, until recently I tried to help someone with a problem.

Since everything seems to have priority with the Dutch Government, (and I won’t give examples here yet as to what has priority), it puts one to wonder if the DNB (the Dutch National (or Central) Bank) ever checks on what is taking place with the Banks in the overseas colonies of Saba, St.Eustatius and Bonaire. They should, as just like the good gentleman at the beginning of this story, people now more than ever wonder what purpose the banks here serve other than to get hold of your cash and having to pay no interest and lending it back to your neighbour at 12% plus. There is no incentive anymore to save your money with a bank. We make an urgent call on the DNB to check out the banks in our islands and to see if they are giving our people a square deal. This article will be followed up by a letter from me as a citizen directly to those at the DNB responsible for these sort of things.

The average man is no economist and has no clue as to what is going on in the world of finances. They do know though that something is wrong when a bank does not pay you any interest anymore on savings yet charges exhorbitant rates to give a loan for trying to better your circumstances. One thing for sure, the banks are always eager to lend you money to buy a car. How is that? Do they have extraordinary relationships with the car dealers?? Something is wrong here for sure!

In the meantime the banks could do a MEA CULPA and offer better interest rates to people who want to build a house, an apartment and so on and a motivational low interest rate for Indigenous People as indicated by the declaration on human rights by the United Nations.

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